Monday, September 8, 2008

Personal Asides: Doug Whitley for Governor? Evasive, Campaigning While Holding Down a Presidency and Unremittingly Hostile to Social Conservatism…The Media Prepares to Picture Palin as “Dumb.”


Whitley Nada.

The president of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce is promoting the candidacy of Doug Whitley for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Significant endorsement but then again the president of the Illinois State Chamber IS Doug Whitley. He has a great distinction: the only one to tie a record previously held solo on my radio show by Melissa Bean: refusing on air to comment on issues. Whitley declined and went “no comment” on air without previously indicating to me that he would do so-- an indecorously insulting thing to do to a radio host and his audience. It showed he doesn’t have either the skill or will to parse. It was clear he did so because he was on-air as the president of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce and didn’t want to bruise particular liberal feelings. But then Whitley never pretended he was anything but an ex-liberal Democrat –a new vogue Republican distinctly ill-at-ease with social conservatives.

His opposite number, Greg Baise, president of the Illinois Manufacturers…no great conservative…has gone on a good many times and has never declared “no comment” on a live show, parses intelligently and has he never signaled to me that no topic was off-limits for him. Of the two, Baise is by far the more astute analyst of Illinois although I don’t agree with him 100% either—but feel he is refreshingly candid in private and public discourse. The all-time champ in the official, live-radio “no comment” department is still Rep. Bean however: Whitley is an amateur in topic-declining next to her.

I have four other reservations about Whitley. First, his conflict of interest of candidate and business lobbyist, a manager of an institution which to serve business ends must deal with Democrats as well as Republicans baffles me. He is a president of a business trade association which technically, in some aspects at least, is 501© (3). If he is running while drawing pay as a trade association prexy he should make a decision soon one way or the other. Second, Whitley as a working stiff would be dependent as a candidate on contributions purportedly from business interests he is supposed to be representing anyhow. How does that work? As a former longtime lobbyist myself (a vice president of Quaker Oats), suppose I had set up an exploratory committee for my hoped for future candidacy while working as a lobbyist. Very strange contortion.

Three, he is unremittingly hostile to social conservatism in any form—pro-choice, pro special rights for gays, disaffection for the 2nd amendment and laugh-down-his-nose coldness ala Topinka with utter lack of sympathy for social concerns that make the GOP grassroots strong. This puts him on a par with the Lion of Anti-Conservatism Hostility, Big Jim Thompson in whose pocket Whitley assuredly would be a token. Fourth, he is an outsider to the Republican party by choice as well as solid Democratic heritage, having not crossed over either intellectually or emotionally from his past Democratic roots no matter his having served in a high appointive post by Jim Edgar.

It is my surmise that Whitley runs as the heir apparent to Jim Thompson. Of the four aforementioned objections I would cite number two as the most significant. His conflict of interest is irresoluble.

The “Dumb” Label.

Since 1956 liberals have undertaken to show Republican presidential incumbents as dumb versus their Democratic counterparts—with one exception. That was Richard Nixon whom they showed as evil (which I would amend to paranoically conspiratorial who despite this imperfection restated the premise of the Cold War by his brilliant negotiation with China). But everyone else was dumb: Eisenhower past his prime and a passive chairman of the board with a fondness for too much golf instead of cerebral work at his desk, Ford, Reagan, Poppy Bush (out of touch with today) and George W. while the Democratic presidents and challengers were uniformly brilliant: JFK insuperably intellectual, LBJ brilliant though imperfect, Jimmy Carter (“nuclear engineer,”), Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry. Now of course Barack Obama is brilliant while John McCain is either slow or senile-beginning. The mainstream media have taken this up, of course, notwithstanding the evidence that none of the Republicans were vastly superior to the Democrats—Eisenhower (his works made known by the brilliant work “The Hidden Hand Presidency”) a superb, almost matchless, world leader; Ford, in his short time in office a worthy successor to Nixon in foreign policy by tempering the undue influence of Henry Kissinger; Poppy Bush a temperate, well-balanced foreign policy expert; his son gifted with superb confidence that led us to hold firm in Iraq and measure out retribution to the Islamic extremists (without with they would have assuredly attacked us again).

But the stratagem that conservatives are dumb is slated to go on. Just yesterday I saw what I fancied is the start-up. In “USA Today” a cartoon by, who else, Walt Handlesman of “Newsday.” McCain is musing: “Obama doesn’t have the experience to deal with Ahmadinejad!” and Sarah Palin, standing by McCain’s side exclaims “Gesundheit!” assuming that the surname “Ahmadineujad!” was a sneeze. Thus we will have to endure a litany of late-night jokes from Leno, Letterman and O’Brien about her alleged dumbness, the jokesters afraid to go after Obama because…gasp…that may make them vulnerable to charges they are…gasp…racist.

Thus all through the year when opportunities for jokes occurred, these so-called comedic commentators cowered. This despite Obama declared Selma, Alabama “got me born” when Selma came in 1965, four years after his birth…that his father was a goat herder when he was a privileged youth who went to work for the Kenyan government…that his family were freedom fighters when one of his half-brothers (one of a great list of half-siblings) crusaded for Odinga…that he claimed Barack is African Swahili when it is Arabic…that his school in Indonesia was Christian when it was not…that he was fluent in Indonesian when he was not and while he was there from ages 6 to 10 couldn’t speak the language…that an “Ebony” or “Life” magazine article on a black man trying to turn his skin white led him to want to run for office to achieve change when no article has been found.

…that he claimed he was a constitutional lawyer when he was a senior lecturer on leave…Naw, see if you were a joke writer for Leno or Letterman, you would have to conclude there’s no comedic fodder there.

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